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tv   The Civil War  CSPAN  February 28, 2016 1:35pm-2:31pm EST

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>> a panel of civil war historians and authors discuss a union general's 1865 campaign through the carolinas, which followed after the famed march to the sea the previous year. the different logistical hurdles . new york historical society posted -- hosted this hour-long event. [captioning performed by the national captioning institute, which is responsible for its caption content and accuracy. visit] [captions copyright national cable satellite corp. 2016] [applause] harold: good evening, and welcome. great to be back in the same seat we always occupied. for those of you who have come to a number of our sessions with john and jim, another one of our deep dives into the civil war. we are promised, and promising each other, that we will do more.
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we have a topic today that, we think, is one of the best we have come up with. it is a neglected civil war story because of the neglected march on georgia. there is little bit less attention on his other march, which followed that march. take a look at this scowling man in that fantastic coke, as we begin talking about him. so, i am going to talk to john. who, as you heard, has written two wonderful books about william sherman. and i think we need to know, i don't know how you can do in a few minutes, we need to know who this guy was? his family, psyche. tell us something about this fellow in the double-breasted uniform. john: this picture that you see was taken of sherman. he did not want to have it taken. he is not a happy camper. this is not the best picture of him. but it's very briefly, sherman has a very difficult childhood. his father dies and he is nine
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years all. he goes to live with a neighbor, while his mother is living just up the street because she simply cannot afford to take care of all the children. and one thing leads to another, and he cannot get over this reliance on the has to place on his foster father. he ends up going to west point. he does not particularly care for very he does for the welcome of the get some demerits. but the most important thing, i think, to remember about sherman before we get into the marches is he spent most of his pre-civil war years in the south. some of his best friends were southerners. so if you want to understand why destructive war developed -- a lot of reasons, obviously -- but one of the main reasons was that
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sherman did not want to continue the warfare of annihilation. he did not want to keep killing people because he would be killing his friends. and so he comes up with the idea, from various sources, comes up with the idea to use destructive war -- psychological war. convince southerners that he knows, that they have no chance of winning by using this destruction, using this psychology. and that is what he does. there is a lot more to sherman. but that is a good start. harold: i want to show another picture. certainly, he liked having his picture taken some time. jim, in 1861, sherman is already
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a veteran. and yet, something happens psychologically. and there are rumors, headlines, that sherman is "insane." which is not a great thing for a commanding general to be burdened with. [laughter] tell us what happened there, in your medical position. james: he was the commander in the first battle of bull run, a devastating one for him. he did pretty well, and was put in charge of the union forces in kentucky. in the west, where he confronted albert sidney johnston. was building up a confederate defensive force. and sherman was not ready for that responsibility. and he became very nervous about
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the confederacy he was facing. like at that stage of the war, he exaggerated the number of confederates. he felt that they were going to invade, that he needed a couple of hundred thousand of troops to confront them. he made some rather wild statements about that there were not based on fact. in the newspapers started claiming he was insane. and the burden of the responsibility actually caused him to have a nervous breakdown. and so he was removed from command, but the commander of the western union armies at that time, he gave sherman another chance. he sent him to st. louis to train new troops.
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to take the pressure off of him, after sherman went home for a leave of absence for a wild grid and sherman recovered. and his stability became commander of the division that fought under grant at shiloh. and that the grant a partnership under grant and sherman, that many historians have said was the partnership that won the civil war. john: that previous picture of sherman on horseback with a very famous one, that allegedly is the site of where president jimmy carter's library is. when you drive in. james: i have heard that. john: i have not checked it out, but it is a good story. harold: let us go to shiloh -- back to shiloh. the first major battle, tell us a bit about his experience there, rather than grant. john: i think jim made a good point. this relationship between grant and sherman is really solidified here. what happened, as you probably know, the first day, the confederates surprised the union troops. that means they surprised grant, sherman, others. they pushed them back. that ended the first day. and the union troops and grant are hanging on by their fingernails. and the famous story of sherman going to see grant that night, it is pouring down rain
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something fierce. and he is going to ask grant for more troops. as he walks up, he notices something. and grant is not an impressive-looking individual. but there was something that sherman saw. and instead of saying, what are the plans, he said a hell of a day we have had, grant. and grant grumbles back, yes, we have had a terrible day. but we will let them tomorrow -- lick them tomorrow. here is a guy who will not quit. he will keep moving forward. i think, we talked about this emotional difficulty that sherman had, and i argue that it is because he was fighting his friends and it bothered him.
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but the point is, when the two of them got together at shiloh, this began this friendship. he saw something in the other that was going to let them support each other. and it allowed grant to allow sherman to do what sherman wanted to do -- give a basic order. harold: and we're going to jump ahead, out of necessity. grant, and the spring of 1864, he committed the entire union army.
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he was with the army of the potomac. and sherman is alone. and that is the beginning of the atlanta campaign. jim, walk us through the beginning of this storied march that will come after that. james: grant's plan was a coordinated defense by several armies, principally the army of the potomac by general meade. and the army of georgia, which was now a combination of the old army of the tennessee and the army of the cumberland and the army of the ohio. three armies are now combined under sherman, and grant's orders to sherman are to get into the interior of georgia, wreck their resources, capture atlanta, and provide joe johnston, commander of the army defending georgia. and so, sherman begins that campaign in the second week of may of 1864 -- the same time the armies are fighting in virginia. and unlike the campaign in
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virginia, which were a series of head-on collisions between grant and lee in the wilderness at spotsylvania and sherman engages in a series of flanking moves. usually, moving to his right, under general james mcpherson. no relationship. [laughter] though i would like to claim a relationship. getting them to retreat, this happens over and over again. from dalton to cashville, and on and on. and at kennesaw mountain, sherman does attack and engages in another flanking movement, this time to the left. he crosses the chattahoochee river. and having not stop sherman, over the course of 100 miles of these flanking maneuvers, jefferson davis gives up on johnston. and removes him from command.
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he appoints a commander under lee, at the commander of tennessee, and hood repeatedly attacked. hood gets a series of even bloodier noses at msr mountain. and finally, sherman undertakes the last of his flanking movements at the end of august, beginning of september. and that cuts the last railroad into atlanta, coming from the south. forces hood to evacuate atlanta on september 2. and that is a huge local impact, the north, the northern people have become weary of the war, of the slaughter. especially in virginia, during the summer of 1864, with nothing to show for. apparently, nothing to show for
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it. and now comes the message from sherman in atlanta, atlanta is ours. it was barely won. people in the north go wild at this news. it turns morale around. and i have argued, and i think people would agree, that it is one of the major turning points of the war. the final turning point toward the union victory, is the fall of atlanta in the beginning of september 1864. it reassures lincolns reelection. and it assures that the north will open the victory. and sherman becomes the leading hero in the north. harold: in terms of politics, we do not have political surveys from the mid-19th century, but
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it had been widely assumed that lincoln was going down in defeat. he was desperately thinking of what to do at the end of august, even thinking of demanding to know whether jefferson davis was ready to negotiate, writing a letter to that effect. he was desperate right before atlanta. clearly, it turned things around because he won 56% of the vote in a couple of months. what does sherman do, john, he has atlanta. and then we begin the famous march east. john: this kind of brings into focus what we were talking about -- the relationship between sherman and grant. because both grant and lincoln do not think it is a good idea for sherman to take off and march to the sea. and sherman has to convince grant, and once grant is convinced, lincoln is convinced. sherman is cutting off the base
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of his supply. he comes to the conclusion that he cannot hang on to atlanta, so he makes atlanta a military post. he depopulates, though it was fair to say it was greatly depopulated already -- there were maybe a couple of thousand by the time he comes in. by the time he leaves, and by the way, the gone with the wind is rory is a myth. but when sherman leaves, atlanta is not leveled to the ground. what is burned is burned by confederates, as they are leaving. and so, the result is that sherman leaves atlanta behind. cuts off his supply line and marches east. keep in mind one important thing that historians do not often talk about, is that sherman had a bunch of cattle -- a lot of cattle that following his army.
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so they had some food so to speak on their own hamburger stand following behind. i guess. but they do have them. and each one of the soldiers is given food to last several days. a still live off the countryside. no question about this. and they destroy a great deal. but again, you do not want to believe all of the stories that are out there. because the destruction that was done on the march to the sea was done not only by sherman's army but by the confederate army, by joe wheeler and his calvary. and remember what beauregard said. beauregard, as only beauregard could do, sent out this
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pronouncement saying destroying everything in sherman's path, so he will have nothing to live on. and just to mention, a lot of other things we can talk about, but in the 1950's, the geographer from the university of georgia did a study of one chunk of the march to the sea. he went back, did not have enough time to do the whole thing, but took one chunk and look at property records, and he found out that what was standing there when sherman came. and what was still standing in the 1950's. and guess what? a lot of houses were still standing for that have been there when sherman came through. so we did not burn everything to the ground. harold: before i turned to jim, john make this argument that the museum of the confederacy that a couple of years ago, they have an annual program called man of the year. like time magazine. and four or five of us were invited to present. i thought i would have a tough time trying to say that lincoln was the man of the year in 1864 because he won reelection. john had the audacity to present
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sherman with this argument that he has created, about houses that are standing. geological record. guess what, john one. sherman was elected man of the year because the whole country took notice that this rather tenuous argument -- [laughter] it had taken hold in this southern imagination. i just have to give him credit, dubious though it is. john: james reston junior about 25 years ago did a book about sherman's march in vietnam. he followed the route of the march. and he would talk about going into town, and the local guides would tell him how sherman burned everything down. and then he would say, but i want to show you some of our antebellum homes. [laughter] but he obviously took livestock. how wide, i mean, this is not
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four people riding abreast. john: 60 miles. and they each traveled on separate roads. and the calvary would weave back and forth under johnson kilpatrick. so they did cut a wide swath through georgia. harold: did they cut up railroad lines? at this very famous civil war print shows. melting the railroad lines, twisting them around trees. that is all true? john: that is true. in fact when there is a great story. 10-15 years ago, the mississippi river went down. it was very dry and all. and there is a river that goes through jackson, mississippi. where sherman also spent some time.
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at that place, the river went down, guess what they found? they found some of sherman's neckties. they would take them up, bend them around the trees. and they would sometime bend them to form the letters u-s. i might just add, too, there have been recent books written by women historians. in which they argue that to really understand the march to the sea, you have to understand it as a gender issue. not a military issue. i am not quite convinced, but i can see the argument that is being made. certainly, sherman did not see this as a gender issue. he saw it as a military issue, that they have to stop fighting. that they cannot continue. harold: and the psychological toll.
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i do just want to present to the audience one thing we talked about privately before we started. but i have not realized, there are a few physicians in the audience tonight. and you both said to me that sherman's was the healthiest army in the war. just explain that. john: it was because he never stayed in the same place two nights in a row. they follow their own water supply. they were kept on the move, in the open air. it was garrison troops, or winter quarters in the civil war, where you had the high disease mortality. because of the sanitation conditions, and the water supply. but sherman's army was on the move. and they ate well. of course. harold: so let us get into savannah. because we have to make the turn north.
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he gets to this beautiful, beautiful city. which he spares, right? and he writes a wonderful letter to abraham lincoln. "i give to you the city of savannah, with 150 guns and heavy ammunition, also about 25,000 bales of cotton." and this is a fanciful picture, a german artist at the gates of savannah. why does he spared the city? james: i think you need to go back to what we were talking about earlier, where sherman has this feel for the southern people. and he has told them, and he says in a few letters and all sorts of other examples of him saying this, as long as you fight them as long as you keep this war up, i will do what is
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necessary to win it -- to preserve the union. but once you stop fighting, once you give up, then i will become your best friend. and you see that happening. and here in savanna, what basically happens is the army is on the edge. german lesson getaway. he does not want to continue fighting. who comes moving in the opposite direction? but the mayor of savannah. with a buddy and a white flag. and he is saying, ok, i quit. so sherman says, fine. you can quit. so the soldiers become great gentleman. they're paying for their food, all sorts of other things. sherman brings food from the north on ships to feed the people in savanna. if you go to savanna, it is a beautiful city. and there is a lot of antebellum
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houses that were there after he came and left. and by the way, the founder of the girl scouts of america was a little girl at that time, and she sat on sherman's knee when he visited her mother, who was the wife of a confederate soldier. and the confederate officer put several of their wives in sherman's control, in his protection. so it tells you that it is much more complicated then we have sometimes been led to believe. harold: so now we are at 1865. and, i mean, who decides what sherman is going to do next, jim? obviously, this is the moment when he is going to move north. tell us who orders it.
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james: as far as christmas, lincoln thanks him. and he says, what next? but i suppose i believe it to you and general grant to figure out what to do next. but what grant wanted to do was put sherman's men on ships and bring them up to virginia. to help close the lead. sherman objected to that, and gets involved in a long-range discussion, just as he had done before the original march to georgia, saying no, i will march north to the carolinas and come in on lee's rear that way. they were both logistical strategically, and they faced a lot of ships to move 60,000 men. along with 20,000 animals, artillery supplies, wagons, and so on. whereas they can move themselves, if they mark across the country. so again, grant says, your first march was successful.
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and you are destroying the resources on which the confederacy is waging this war. so he turns them loose. and the beginning of february 1865, sherman moves off from savanna. and starts through south carolina. and as they marched through georgia, it was not as destructive of civilian property as the myth has taken it, probably in south carolina, it was. it measured up to the myth. because it was not so much sherman personally, but all of his officers, soldiers, they had it in for south carolina. regarded south carolina as responsible for beginning this war. they remembered a speech by south carolina senator james henry hammond back in 1858, which is often called the king cotton speech.
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a lot of northern soldiers saw it differently, because hammond justify the social order of the south -- slavery that because they created a wealthy, aristocratic class based on the mud of the slaves. he taunted the north, saying we have a mudshell, too. well, these northern soldiers remembered the fact that south carolinians looked down on them when they went to south carolina. and they did have it in. john: it is interesting, too, that when sherman was marching through georgia, there were several letters and diary entries of soldiers who reported that georgia, particularly georgian women, basically said, we do not like what you are doing to us. but give it to south carolina even more. [laughter]
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john: they are responsible for this mess. harold: you really are going to focus on gender studies. i want to just take a moment to talk about sherman and african-americans. edwin forbes. i assume that sherman's army attracted african-americans who were liberated by the army, in terms of the emancipation proclamation. but i think we need to talk little bit about shermans attitude about african-americans. well, sherman was not an abolitionist, nowhere close to being an abolitionist. he supported the emanicaption the lincoln and administration policy, but he was not a proponent of black troops in the union army. and he had no black troops in
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his army in georgia. he did have a contingent of black pioneers, as they were called. pioneered in that context meant labor troops. so they played a crucial role, especially in the march through south carolina. harold: what happens to these people who attach themselves to the army? john: in the case of georgia, he had thousands and thousands of african-american slaves following the army. he tried to discourage that because they ate up the supplies. several thousand of them made it savanna, and a lot of them dropped out -- but several thousand of them actually did make it to savanna, georgia with him. and sherman, after consulting, was in january 1865, he issued a famous general order -- number 15 -- in which he set aside millions of acres of the low country in georgia and south carolina for occupation by freed
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slaves. with whatever possessory titles they have, until congress to make good on that land. well, congress never did make good on that land. and when johnson became president, he returned that to the owners. that is another story. but sherman, who is not a strong believer in emancipation, i guess it would be fair to call him a racist. from our point of view. but he does issue this general order, or special order, number 15. thousands and of acres, later to be taken away from them. but the pioneers, several thousand black laborers, did some of the heavy work in bridging rivers, roads and sherman's march to georgia. they provided essential
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logistical support for not so much georgia, but for the carolinas. harold: john, we probably should put this on the screen earlier, but you see the march from georgia is from the southeast. sort of the winding road up the carolinas. this is helpful. why is the path so that when you consider that direct? john: well, i believe that jim began talking about this. sherman wanted to leave in january, but it was the wettest spring that area had ever had, and the streams were overflowing. the marshes were full, so these soldiers, she shermans soldiers, they literally had to march, wa de, through the water.
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jim mentioned knocking down a tree and laying it down on the ground, putting another three next to it, another blog next to next to it, but in this case, it was so wet that some of these would go down and , and theto the surface result was they had to put several layers. this was incredibly difficult. jim: they built a road through the water. harold: we are building a subway through a much slower process. john: you like to think that all of these things will stay, but they do not.
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they shift. and this is why joe johnston says that -- he was not in command at this time, but he hurt about this, and he said sherman has the greatest armies since caesar, that they could accomplish what they did. they were raking -- making 10 , marching, doing this and everything else, building bridges. it was a mess, and remover this is winter, so it is cold. it does get cold in the south. believe me. it does get cold in the south, river, are wading up the and it is cold, and it is a terribly difficult thing. that is why sherman said the march through the carolinas was much more difficult than the march to this the.
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-- to the sea. harold: you are more or less parallel which flow southeast, and the march north to savanna through the carolinas, especially south carolina, you have to cross one river after another. harold: was there ever -- as we look at the march towards columbia, something we know now because of current events, was there a discussion about following the rail line to charleston? significance as where the american flag was first fired on at fort sumter. john: there is a story from , and this is the indirect approach that he made the confederates think that they
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were going towards augustine, then going towards charleston, and then he went up the middle so to speak. dir. holzer: was it his decision? prof. marszalek: yes. and he has the leeway. prof. mcpherson: granta gave him complete -- grant gave him complete control. do whatever you want. prof. marszalek: sherman makes it equidistant to charleston. he cuts it off and houston falls anyway. -- charleston falls anyway. the irony is that troops have been trying to take charleston for how long? prof. mcpherson: they started in '63. prof. marszalek: coming to the sea, sherman supports it from behind. he is supposed to go. there is a great story that we won't get into, burning columbia and all. sherman was accused of burning columbia in the postwar years.
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his response was "no i didn't, because if i had i would let you know i did it. i would not deny it. but, i didn't do it. if you're unhappy with that, we will get my soldiers together and come back and finish the job." [laughter] dir. holzer: jim always manages to bring up general mcpherson. i can't imagine why, but i found a wonderful image of one of the stops along the way on the columbia -- mcphersonville. what do we know about mcphersonville? the burning of mcphersonville? in south carolina. prof. mcpherson: a lot of towns in south carolina were burned. my favorite was not mcphersonville, but barnwell.
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named after a south carolina family, ever after known to south carolina soldiers as burnwell. a lot of south carolina -- they did take it on the chin. dir. holzer: here is a romanticized image of the burning of columbia. john gave us an early glimpse of sherman's not assuming responsibility for the destruction. this is a romanticized print. next is a photograph of what parts of columbia looked like after sherman went through. they probably have kept the bullet pocked side of the state capital, the same state capital
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that flew the confederate flag. prof. mcpherson: with stars next to the holes. sherman through a couple of shots into the city, no question. we were talking, there is a well-known book if you want to get a good insight and the what went on in columbia. there is a book by marian lucas. it was published by university south carolina press. prof. mcpherson: they reprinted it. it was originally published by texas a&m. prof. marszalek: this historian, who is from south carolina, said there were three reasons why columbia was burned. wind, whiskey, and cotton. it was both sides. prof. mcpherson: not because they wanted it, but because it was tinder. prof. marszalek: they were going to burn all of the cotton. prof. mcpherson: actually, wade hampton. prof. marszalek: not hearty, wade hampton, exactly. prof. mcpherson: wade hampton was one of the wealthiest south
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carolina planters in the south, -- one of the richest slaveholders in the south and reputed to be the richest man in the south. prof. marszalek: lee sent him down from virginia to try to help. there were cotton bales in the middle of the city. the wind came up and started the fire going again. in the meantime, as the soldiers, the union soldiers, are coming into columbia, someone has the bright idea that there is whiskey here, all kinds of hard liquor that people from charleston and other places have sent to columbia so it would be safe. they are literally doling out liquor in these big ladles. you can imagine what is happening there. anyway, the point lucas makes is that there are a lot of reasons why columbia burned to the ground.
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either way, it did not burn to the ground. the estimate is 30% was burned. same with atlanta, about 30%. a lot of it was the military aspects. still, 30%. it is not like gone with the wind. dir. holzer: i want to go through some of these slides so we can get trim and out of the carolinas and into virginia, then do an assessment. we have the use of african troops in the carolinas. they are in charleston. they might not be sherman's men but they are a symbolic part of the union conquest of carolina. sherman gets to virginia and has the famous meeting with lincoln. my favorite part of the meeting is sherman trying to figure out
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what lincoln wants done with the confederate president jefferson davis is captured. lincoln tells his story of an irishman who had given up whiskey after a long year of battling drinking. he asked his friends for lemonade. refusing whiskey, he said i will turn my back, and if you add unbeknownst to myself, that would be acceptable. sherman got it. he can escape, but it had to be unbeknownst to lincoln. so, appomattox is done. lee has surrendered. lincoln is dead. sherman finally sits at a table. before the questions began, we have to deal with this extraordinary surrender.
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johnston decides to give away the store. sherman decides to give away too much. tell us what happened at this meeting. this is the bennett house? prof. mcpherson: you have to go back to the beginning. sherman said, and jim noticed his attitude toward black troops. sherman said that when you quit fighting, i will become your best friend. the so-called sherman-johnston treaty includes things that are very helpful to the south. for example, the soldiers are given authority to keep their weapons and take them back to the state arsenal. remember how the civil war began? you have any number -- no mention of slavery.
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there is a mention that the confederates will be able to keep their property. what does that mean? it fits with what sherman has always said he would do. sherman does not like african-americans. he keeps saying over and over we will go back to the good old days before the war started. i would like to point out to sherman, if he was around, the good old days before the coming of the war saw a situation where the south dominated the federal government and slavery was accepted. is sherman giving away the store? i think he is. he makes a big mistake. dir. holzer: what is the reaction in washington? prof. mcpherson: when he sends the term of the surrender agreement with johnston back to washington, the cabinet meets with president johnson and they reject the term. grant is in washington.
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they tell grant to go down and take over control of sherman's army. to fire sherman. gives johnston the same terms he gave lee at appomattox. grant does not want to alienate sherman. he does not want to ruin him. he goes down and quietly tells sherman that it is unacceptable and gives him the same terms that i gave lee at appomattox. sherman meets with johnston again and does this. johnston actually sold sherman a bill of goods in the first one. prof. marszalek: he wept when he heard the news about lincoln. so that softened sherman up. prof. mcpherson: johnson was in no condition to refuse the new terms. they include the surrender terms 10 days after the original.
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but in the meantime, secretary of war stanton released to the press information about sherman's original terms. putting a spin on them that sherman is giving away the store. sherman becomes the subject of a great deal of criticism. he goes from hero to bum. dir. holzer: he had seven months of great press. which is pretty amazing. if you have any questions please come to the microphones and we will recognize you. prof. mcpherson: sherman never forgave secretary of war stanton for what he regarded as shoddy treatment. and when he met stanton on the reviewing stand on the victorious march of the armies to washington -- dir. holzer: which is here, the grand review. prof. mcpherson: stanton went up to shake hands with sherman and sherman turned away and refused to shake hands with him.
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a famous incident. joyce: hello. my name is joyce hall. my great grandmother i was a very small child talked about the union soldiers coming through canton, north carolina -- western north carolina. that is not on your route. you know anything about that? prof. marszalek: there has been a wonderful article, and i wish i could think of the person's name in a folklore magazine, talking about even before the gender of the march to the state, in which there is a constant refrain and a lot of folklore that is passed from generation to generation about the fact that it was the women of the south who stood up to sherman. and they would -- it would be something like it was an old
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girlfriend of his, so he did not ant to do anything, or was great masonic area. he was a great mason. none of that was true, and even the stories about the women standing up to the soldiers simply did not happen, but you are right. north carolina was particularly famous. building through north carolina, the soldiers noticed that the pine trees gave off a lot of resin, so you could light them. you had flames shooting up to the sky. they would do dumb things like they would take one of their buddies out of the bed where they were sleeping and stick him to one of the trees that were caught on fire. there was a lot of foolishness like this going on. holzer: how wide was the carolina army? 60-miles wide like georgia? prof. marszalek: i was going to make the point, i don't agree with jim. in some places it was 60-miles,
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in georgia, but in other places, when it came together, this sort of thing -- but it was not quite as wide because of the weather conditions. >> i want to congratulate all three of you for making rather easily understood the there,ting campaign down that one of you stated a gender war, which was something i had was quited before and interested. i know you said you did not agree with the gender war, but those proponents agreeing with that, what is their reasoning? prof. marszalek: the historians. they go through diaries left by women. a lot of good confederate diaries left by women and letters. and they extrapolate events, and
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they argue that actually sherman's march was a battle not of military nature, but it was a battle against the role of women in society, and he argues that as a result of sherman's march, the men were looked down on because they could not stop this. the heroine'sme they stood up to the soldiers. none of that is completely accurate. it was, but in most cases, it was not. dir. holzer: yes, sir. >> when i look back on american history and i hear about general sherman, grant, robert e lee, stonewall jackson, going to macarthur and patton -- the ,enerals, american generals have very rich personalities.
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today,n you bring it to they do not stand out as conspicuously as they did in history. you explain that, and how does that affect our military? dir. holzer: do you want to give that a try, professor? prof. mcpherson: i'm not sure i understand the question. are you saying that generals today do not have the same kind of image and colorful -- >> yes. prof. mcpherson: in the civil war and world war ii the generals of the two wars that you mentioned were the two biggest wars this country ever fought. they are going to float to the surface, the dominant personalities.
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now, with brushfire wars, minor wars, nothing anywhere remotely similar to the scale of the civil war or world were to come you're not going to have these people being thrown to the surface. >> you had iraq that lasted a long time. you had vietnam. prof. mcpherson: iraq, 5000 or 6000 american soldiers died? 750,000 died in the civil war. it is a huge difference. it will create a huge difference in image. the role that these people play in a major historical event. dir. holzer: let's try to get in one more question. >> a question for the professor. shermanioned when proposed to march through the south and leave behind the supplies that this got grant and lincoln very nervous. however, isn't it true that when grant executed his vicksburg campaign, he was going to cut himself off from his base of
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supplies when he crossed the river? so why was he not more sympathetic to what sherman was trying to do? dir. holzer: good question. prof. marszalek: that is very accurate. some historians argue that sherman got his idea for breaking away from his supply base from what grant did in vicksburg when he crossed the river. the difficulty with that interpretation, i think, and i've talked to people that know more about the battle of vicksburg than i do, and they argue that actually grant never cut his supply line. the irony is it was sherman who kept insisting that he do it had to be done to keep the supply line going. it was a very complicated supply line. it did go across the river.
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one of the first things grant wanted to do and did when he came onto mississippi soil was to make sure his supply line was indeed there. so grant does, and you can see this in letters were he talks about, yes i cut myself off from , my supplies, etc. -- but, i don't think to a great degree that sherman did in the march to the sea. prof. mcpherson: sherman's march from atlanta to savannah was 285 miles from the mississippi river to jackson is only 40 miles. it is a huge difference in a logistical situation. dir. holzer: i always like to end with a quote from the commander-in-chief. let's conclude with the words of thanks that the president sent to sherman after the surrender of savannah. not quite what next, which is a rough thing to say in that kind of triumph. but a demonstration that he was always willing to share credit for great moments in the war.
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so this is what lincoln wrote to sherman after getting that extraordinary christmas gift of savannah. " when you were about leaving atlanta for the atlantic coast, i was anxious if not fearful, but feeling you were the better judge, and remembering that nothing tricked nothing gained, i did not need to fear. now, the undertaking being a success, the honor is all yours. it brings those who sat in darkness to see a great light." magnanimous and evocative. you helped us see light on a number of programs, especially this campaign. you have enlightened us. it is always wonderful to appear with john and jim, and if you keep coming, we will keep coming. thank you. [applause]
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>> harold holzer, john marszalek, james mcpherson -- aren't these three amazing? [applause] so, we look forward to having you return again and again. if we could, we would just order chinese food and stay for another session. [laughter] but they all have to go. they will be staying for a book signing. you can stay for a while, go to the museum, chat with them, and go to our café for dinner. we look forward to seeing you all again. thank you all so much, and thank you to these three wonderful gentlemen. [captions copyright national cable satellite corp. 2016] [captioning performed by the national captioning institute, which is responsible for its caption content and accuracy. visit]
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